Pre-Flight Checks

Preflight inspections and checks should be done with the assistance of a checklist. This will not only help to ensure nothing is missed but also using a checklist for operational procedures is a good safety practice.

A checklist cane be used in an “operational order” form in which to ensure that nothing is missed. Pilots of all experience levels routinely use checklists, so building good checklist habits from the beginning will help throughout your avaition experience.

Common pre-flight checklist items:

  • Aircraft documents and FAA required information
  • Cockpit Placards
  • Instrument Markings according to Limitations
  • AROW (Acronym for the 4 specific required Documents)
    • Airworthiness Certificate (confirms Original aircraft manufacturer and certification status, this document is effective provided the airplane is operated and maintained per regulations, identifies the aircraft serial number, must be visible to pilot or passengers and usually found in the cockpit to the left of the pilot)
    • Registration Certificate (just like a car registrations, it shows who owns the plane, serial number, Valid for 3 years at the end of the registrations month, must be renewed at least 6 months before the expiration date, usually found alongside the Airworthiness Certificate, not required to be visible to pilot or passengers- can be behind Airworthiness Certificate)
    • Operating Limitations (specific to each airplane by serial number, placards or instrument markings, operating limitations are noted in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook -POH and specify limitations such as speeds, weight and types of operations.
    • Weight and Balance (outlines the allowable limits for loading the aircraft with fuel, cargo and passengers, usually in the POH but can be anywhere, specific to the individual aircraft)

Prior to each flight, it is important to use the pre-flight checklist which will include the following:

  • Aircraft Condition and Structure
    • cracks
    • abnormal wear and tear
    • missing components
    • damage
  • Aircraft Surroundings
    • loose debris that may be from the aircraft (nuts, bolts, glass, metal)
    • fluids under or near the aircraft (oil, fuel)
    • AROW documents and/or any other required documents
    • Fluids (Fuel/Oil)
      • Sufficient and correct quantity for destination and/or diversion/weather
      • Correct fuel type
      • Fluids not contaminated by water or other substance
      • Ensure the Aircraft has unobstructed movement
        • remove tie downs
        • remove wheel chocks
        • Control Lock
        • Pitot tube cover
        • ensure nothing is in the taxi path of the aircraft, wings, wheels etc
        • Adjust pilot seat for visibility ( ensure you can see over the engine)